After Richie and Angila Wilder divorced, they’d both moved on and started families with other people – but he couldn’t forget the past. When an unh
After Richie and Angila Wilder divorced, they’d both moved on and started families with other people – but he couldn’t forget the past.
When an unhealthy relationship comes to an end, that doesn’t always mean the problems stay in the past.
With some couples, the bad blood continues to haunt their future too.
Richie Wilder and his former wife Angila were divorced, and despite having both found someone new, their animosity towards each other only grew.
The couple had lived in Minot, North Dakota, and had two children together – a son aged six and a 12-year-old daughter.
During their marriage, Richie had been convicted of domestic violence, and when they separated, they had fought over the custody of their children. It was agreed the kids would live with Angila, and they often went to stay with their dad – but still, Richie wanted more.
Nursing student Angila, 30, moved on with a man called Chris Jackson, and by 2015 they had a two-year-old son and were expecting their second baby.
Richie, 29, had also found love again with kindergarten teacher Cynthia. They married and had a daughter, then four. But even with new families and fresh starts, there continued to be arguments between Richie and Angila about everything from parenting to their personality clashes.
Outspoken Riche made it clear he thought their children should live with him. Angila responded by sending him an article about being a narcissistic father.
On 13 November 2015, the pair’s two children were staying with Richie and Cynthia, while Angila was at home alone with her son. Her boyfriend was working the night shift at a local Walmart store.
When Chris returned in the morning, he found the door of their house had been kicked in.
Inside, he was horrified to discover pregnant Angila had been brutally attacked and was lying dead in their bedroom.
Their two-year-old was safe in another room, but he’d been there all night, alone.
Angila had been furiously stabbed 44 times in the face, neck and upper chest, with some wounds three or four inches deep. It was a senseless crime. Nothing was missing from the home and she had no enemies.
When police told Richie and Cynthia, they instantly offered their support and continued to care for the children while the murder was investigated.
Of course Richie was an obvious suspect, but he had an alibi. Cynthia said he had been home with her and his children all night.
Investigators focused on the DNA that was found under Angila’s nails – she had desperately tried to defend herself.
A month after her killing, they had a match. It was Richie. When they searched his car, they found it had been cleaned, but Richie had missed some of Angila’s blood on the door.
When Richie was arrested, Cynthia strongly protested her husband’s innocence and continued to care for his children as he awaited trial. But in August 2016, he tried to break out of prison.
He used a piece of metal from a broom head to chisel away at the moulding around the window in his cell, then was caught on security footage throwing away the pieces in the toilet.
In December, Richie finally went on trial and pleaded not guilty. The prosecution told the court that Richie had gone to Angila’s home that night, knowing her boyfriend would be out, and stabbed her to death.
He closed the door behind him, aware that a two-year-old would be alone for hours until his dad returned. The court was told that Richie had even tried to frame Angila’s boyfriend, despite him being at work all night.
‘He left that house, Angila Wilder’s house, on November 13 with Angila’s blood on his hands. He still has Angila’s blood on his hands,’ the prosecutor said.
With the DNA under her nails and the blood stain in his car, it didn’t take the jury long to find Richie guilty. Five months later he was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole and a five further years for trying to escape.
Cynthia told everyone that the court had got it wrong.
‘He’s a good man,’ she said at the time. ‘He’s a good husband. He would never do anything that would hurt his kids. I stand by him.’
But there was another twist in the sordid tale. While Richie was being convicted, the police had been working on his accomplice.
After Richie’s arrest, Cynthia had got back in touch with an ex-lover on Facebook .
He had a criminal record, but once he heard what Cynthia had to say he went straight to the police and became their confidential informant.
Officers placed a recording device in his car to record conversations with her, and he agreed to tape their chats on his mobile phone.
Cynthia admitted to him that she’d helped Richie plan Angila’s murder. She said she’d staked out Angila’s home to see when her boyfriend, Chris, went to work, so Richie could make his move.
She said she found it exciting.
When Richie returned that fateful night, she’d even helped him clean up the blood in the car. Richie had showered, and they’d had ‘sexual relations’, despite what he’d just done.
Then Cynthia went to sleep as Richie headed out to throw a weighed-down bag of bloody clothing and the murder weapon in a local river. Then she provided the perfect alibi for him.
The more Cynthia told her ex, the more he told police. Cynthia let slip that she’d known about Richie’s attempt to break out of jail and had been arranging a car, clothing and a mobile phone to try to help him out.
She was recorded saying they’d agreed to keep their stories straight, but her husband hadn’t stuck to it, which irritated her.
Cynthia was shockingly cold about Angila’s death. ‘If it was me, I [expletive] would have gone back and cut her [expletive] fingers off. I would have burned them. I would have lit the house on fire… I could go to jail for a very long time because I helped him,’ she was recorded saying. The net had been closing in on Cynthia – and all while she had been caring for Angila’s children.
Cynthia was arrested, and this year she entered an Alford Plea – where she contested some of the details, but admitted a jury had enough evidence to return a guilty verdict.
Prosecutors said she helped Richie to kill his ex-wife, and even helped him try, and fail, to break out of jail. Cynthia was found guilty of conspiracy to murder.
In May, more horrific recordings of Cynthia were played at the sentencing. Cynthia was heard saying she and Richie had joked about killing Angila as far back as when they first started dating, and she was ‘proud of him’ for going through with it. Cynthia said Angila’s kids would be ‘better off without her’.
She told the informant that Richie hated Angila so much that he couldn’t ‘just do one stab to the jugular’ – that he went ‘psycho on her’.
In her defence, Cynthia tried to tell the court she’d simply exaggerated the story to impress a former lover she was trying to get back with. She said she didn’t know of Richie’s plans until after he’d done it. The judge didn’t believe her and called her claims ‘disingenuous’.
Cynthia was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Lesser sentences had been recommended, but the judge reminded the court just how much planning had gone into the killing and the extent she’d tried to cover it up.
The judge said it wasn’t clear whether Cynthia was the ‘puppet or the puppet master’, but she was the one person who could have stopped the tragedy as Richie left to kill that night, but chose not to. She’d betrayed her stepchildren’s trust and robbed them of a mum. ‘Your actions are the ultimate form of child abuse,’ the judge said. Cynthia has since appealed her sentence.
Richie and Angila’s relationship might have been over, but the legacy would leave children without parents, put two people behind bars and take the life of an innocent woman.